Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Save money: make it yourself, the queso fresco edition

To continue the theme of "making stuff", I want to disabuse you of the notion that mozzarella is the easiest cheese to make at home. It is, in fact, not. Easiest cheese? Queso Fresco.

Do you know what I love about the internet? The fact that you can type something like, "how to make queso fresco" into your computer and it will return results. God, I love google.

Anyway, I am not going to pretend that I did anything other than simply type in "how to make queso fresco", and then followed the instructions, but I am going to share my experience following those instructions with you here.

As I said in a previous post, D and I are attempting to live off my SNAP benefits. One of the struggles with this is the fact that I love cheese. Like, love to eat cheese on top of everything, or love to eat just slices of cheese and pretend that that is a balanced meal. This becomes a problem when cheese costs upwards of $6 a pound, and you are out of SNAP benefits and you still have two weeks left in the month. I had found a lovely recipe on how to make saag paneer on the gluten free girls website (seriously, who doesn't love her?), and that was fairly easy (seriously). This put the notion into my head that making queso fresco to sprinkle on our tacos (which are our go-to, end-of-the-month meals) might be equally easy.

How easy, you ask? So easy.

Lets talk about making cheese for a second. Confession: I don't really get it. How in the hell are they taking milk and making glorious cheddary goodness? Couldn't tell you. Science, I assume. To make mozzarella, the "easiest of cheeses" (lies!), you have to purchase rennet off the internet. Who even knows what that is?!? I for sures do not.

So yes, paneer and queso fresco. Here is what you do. Ready? Because it's gonna be crazy.

Boil milk.
Add acid (for paneer it's lemon juice, for queso fresco, it's vinegar).
stir so you are gathering curds together.
pour through a cheese cloth.
let it drain.

You've got cheese.

Seriously. It's that easy. Queso fresco is supposed to be a salty cheese so I suggest you add a bunch of salt to the milk before you boil it. Also, I have used however much milk I had left in the gallon, or however much fit in the pot, with no regard to measurement and it's turned out perfectly every time. Just add your acid until you see curds forming. For 8 cups of milk, they suggest at least 1/4 cup of lemon juice or three tablespoons of vinegar. I added about 1 tablespoon of salt to the queso fresco, but would suggest using more if you try it.

And you should. TRY IT!


Amy said...

I'm with you. I'm trying it!

Amy said...

What I mean is this:

I love cheese, too. And I am also on a limited budget.

I just met a friend who cannot consume dairy. Allergic. I thought, that is SO much worse than being gluten intolerant.

I don't miss bread too much, but butter, milk, cheese! I would miss that.